For the video to “Dangerous Days,” from her upcoming album Taiga (out Oct. 7, preorder here), Zola Jesus and director Tim Saccenti take us into the literal landscapes that Zola Jesus’ music often evokes, from chilly arctic lakes to lush forests. It’s a gorgeous video that suits such an inspiring pop song. (Judging by the credits on YouTube, it looks like it was at least partially filmed in Washington’s Olympic National Park; guess we’ll have to book our tickets to go there ASAP.)
Tulips are a self-described riotgaze trio from L.A. that trade off powerful female vocals over effected surf riffs and new wave beats, like if Lush were reborn as L.A. punks with a shit ton of attitude, or if Bikini Kill got hip to tremolo and reverb. They’ve got a two-song cassingle (!) out now, can you can hear both songs here. Look for it in the Amoeba cassingle section! See 'em tonight at Pehrspace with Roses for their cassingle release party.
TheTerry Malts aren’t your typical Bay Area garage band. In fact, they’re not really a garage band or a punk band—or even a typical Slumberland Records band—at all. The band’s three members—comprising singer/bassist Phil Benson, guitarist/vocalist Corey Cunningham and drummer/vocalist Nathan Sweatt, started off in jangle-rock revivalists Magic Bullets before branching off into Terry Malts, a fast-paced, fuzz-rockin’ trio that fuses Ramones-style hooks and brevity with the deep-voiced panache of Morrissey and reverbed insouciance shared with several of their labelmates. Their second album, the Neil Young-reffing Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere (on CD or LP) is another quick and dirty delight, as was their first album, last year’s Killing Time. I caught up with the band just as they were set to release Nobody, which is in stores today. (See photos from their Amoeba performance here.)
Howdy, pardners! We were big fans of Widowspeak’s dusky, dreamy last album, Almanac, which was released last year. Now they’ve got more goodness on the way in the form of The Swamps EP, with hints of a third album on the way. The EP is out Oct. 29 on Captured Tracks, and you can hear the Mazzy Star-in-a-ghost-town-style “True Believer” now.
Johnathan Rado – “Hand in Mine”
More rootin’, tootin’, country-flavored indie pop on the way from Foxygen’s Johnathan Rado. As if his band’s effing fantastic We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magicwasn’t enough for one year (one of the best of the year so far, I’d say), California native Rado has a solo album, the awesomely titled Law and Order, due Sept. 3 on Woodsist. “Put your hand in mine, it will excite you” says the Nancy Sinatra counterpart to his Lee Hazlewood. Cute ‘n’ seductive.
Like some unholy marriage between Black Flag and The Cramps, FIDLAR’s “Cheap Beer” is pure aural fuck — “I DRINK CHEAP BEER SO WHAT FUCK YOU.” There’s more subtlety there within than that would imply — sweet little surf riffs, excellent solo, smart dynamics, perfect production without being self-consciously lo-fi. But the thing the L.A. band offers uniquely is that clear-cut dynamite party chorus, a rarity in the days of reverb-awash garage rock. FIDLAR’s deubt album will be released in early 2013 on Mom & Pop.
SFV Acid – “Ashland Slumber”
This nasty bit of indie electro-house comes from L.A.’s SFV Acid, who sound like they’re coming into their own with this latest slab of sublimely grimey dance music. “Ashland Slumber” sounds a bit like Detroit house blasted out of shitty speakers and garnering extra feedback and reverb in the process. I love how lush the synths are vs. the brutality of the beats. Harsh, weird fun stuff. The Neighborhood Archives EP is due Oct. 15 on UNO.
Vex Ruffin – “Take It”
Gnarly, nasty one-man-band punk out of L.A. Vex Ruffin’s “Take It” rides its bone-simple riff and drum machine (I think? It might as well be.) to great heights on Ruffin’s balls to the wall vocal. It’s kind of the punk inverse of Dirty Beaches’ one-main rockabilly noir. His debut LP is due next year on Stones Throw.
San Francisco’s The Fresh & Onlys have announced the title, Long Slow Dance, and tracklist for their new album, as well as tour dates for a West Coast tour. For anyone who loved 2010’s Play It Strange, and there were plenty of us, the news of a new album from The Fresh & Onlys is exciting stuff. From the sound of “Yes or No,” they’ve ditched a lot of the reverb for a more straightforward shimmery rock sound. I say all the better; “Yes or No” is the best thing I’ve heard from them yet, unafraid to hide its gorgeous melody in the garage. The album comes out Sept. 4 on Mexican Summer.
07/21 San Francisco, CA Phono Del Sol
08/05 Big Sur, CA Woodsist Fest / Henry Miller Library
09/05 Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room *
09/06 San Diego, CA Soda Bar *
09/07 Los Angeles, CA The Echo *
09/08 San Francisco, CA The Independent *
09/09 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst Atrium *
09/11 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades *
09/13 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios *#
09/14 Bellingham, WA The Shakedown *
09/15 Vancouver, BC The Media Club *
09/16 Seattle, WA Crocodile *
1. 20 Days and 20 Nights
2. Yes or No
3. Long Slow Dance
4. Presence of Mind
5. Dream Girls
6. Fire Alarm
7. Executioner's Song
8. No Regard
10. Foolish Person
11. Wanna Do Right By You
I’m a huge fan of L.A.’s Lavender Diamond. There are few artists you can say are truly “special,” and Lavender Diamond and their frontwoman, Becky Stark, truly are. This week they released the first song, “Oh My Beautiful World,” from their upcoming new album, Incorruptible Heart, due Sept. 25 on Paracadute. On releases like Imagine Our Love and The Cavalry of Light EP, Stark and co. constructed grandiose folk-rock songs that relayed a disarming, unforced naivete. “Oh My Beautiful World” has glorious harmonies, sounding somewhat like Stark’s other musical project, The Living Sisters, but producer David Fridman (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) ups the girl group quotient with big “Be My Baby” drums and acidic breakdowns partway through. I never would have thought to pair Fridman with Lavender Diamond, and I can’t wait to hear what else they come up with.
1. Everybody's Heart's Breaking Now
3. I Don't Recall
4. Just Passing By
5. Teach Me How to Waken
6. Come Home
8. Light My Way
9. Oh My Beautiful World
10. Perfect Love
11. Everybody's Song
12. All The Stars